HISTORY OF LENT AND WHY 40 DAYS

The Catholic TV monthly magazine had an article about the History of Lent. I thought maybe some of you might be interested:

History of Lent-what did fasting used to look like: The Lenten season, preparation for Easter, has been observed from the onset of Christ’s Church, although there have been inconsistencies with duration and practices.  The Council of Nicea, 325AD, established Easter’s fluid date as the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox. In 461 AD, Pope St. Leo established the duration as 40 consecutive days before Easter. Pope Gregory the Great, in the sixth century, added the dispensing of ashes the preceding Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), making Lent 46 days. Sundays were considered feast days and not included in the count. (However, my mother informed us kids that if we gave up Movies for Lent we could not go on Sundays, or it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice. Connie)

Initially, all forms of meat, fish and animal products were excluded for the entirety of Lent. People were allowed one meal per day, after 3 pm. In the 1400’s that time was revised to noon. Eventually, a small snack was included to sustain energy. Over time, fish, meat and eventually dairy products were allowed. However, fasting was require all 40 days. It wasn’t until 1966 that fast days were lessened to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday only. (Now, we give up meat on Fridays during Lent, along with Ash Wednesday)

WHY 40 DAYS????The number 40 has ecclesial significance: Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai before receiving the Ten Commandments; Jesus spent 40 days in prayer and fasting prior to beginning his ministry. So, too, we spend 40 days preparing to do God’s work.

WHY  DO WE HAVE PENITENTIAL SEASONS?  (This is a question many Christians ask Catholics, who quite often don’t know the answer) Jesus gave the example of a penitential retreat, spending prayerful time in the desert preparing for His ministry, reflecting on God’s will and determining how He’d freely make that happen. Penitential seasons offer us this same opportunity to withdraw from our routines and evaluate our spiritual progress or regression. We do this through reflection and repentance, which enable us to identify our weaknesses and make reparation to amend our sinful ways. Penitential seasons create time to reflect on our need to make God the focal point of our lives. The result can be spiritually rewarding. (Many Catholics spend extra time in prayer. Go to extra Masses, the Stations of the Cross, and other spiritual reading during Lent)

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT RULES FOR LENT IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

All Catholics, ages 14 and up, are bound by the law of abstinence. Abstinence means refraining from the consumption of meat (land animals) on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. Why Friday? To unite ourselves with Jesus’ sacrifice, made for us on Good Friday.

All Catholics, ages 18-59, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is defined as eating one full, meatless meal on prescribed days. Bits of food can be taken at other traditional meal times though their combined total should not equal a full meal.

Penitential practices, like fasting and abstinence, are intended to refocus our thoughts and intentions toward God. Lent’s 40 days include Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday (the Lenten fast continues until Holy Saturday), not including Sundays. Sundays are optional but encouraged. For health reasons, the infirm, ill, and pregnant or nursing mothers are exempt.

Three other Lenten disciplines are prayer (daily conversation with the Lord) fasting (from behaviors which detract from our relationship with God) and  almsgiving (sharing our resources, ensuring the basic needs of human dignity).

I WILL ADD; many Catholics like to go to the  Stations of the Cross usually on Friday if it is available in their Churches. The Stations of the Cross actually started before the Crusades when Christian were free to go to Jerusalem.  I read where they used to journey from Rome and Europe to Israel to follow the footsteps of Jesus to the Cross. Much like people do now. Then when the Muslims took over the Holy Lands and the Christians could not go there, they started setting up outdoor statues or pictures of what we now call the Passion of Christ. From the Last Supper to the capture in the garden, the whippings and crown of thorns thru the town, past the women, and when he had help carrying the cross and when He was nailed to the cross. Now Catholic Churches have pictures or carvings on the wall that go around the church, 14 stations showing the Passion of Jesus.  People say prayers at each station and they are called the Stations of the Cross.  It follows the story of His Passion in the Bible Gospels. Usually on Good Friday, when possible, the Stations are said at 3PM, the time that Jesus died.

GIVING ALMS: During Lent as with other times of the year, but especially during Lent, we can give up something we spend money on, coffee, candy, movies, whatever, and give that money to the poor. Examples; the Salvation Army, Local Food Cupboards or you can look up Catholic Relief Services (CRS) or Catholic Charities for example, all these organizations help people who are desperate for help.  Catholics have what we call a “Rice Bowl” we put on the table or somewhere in our home where everyone can drop money in, on Easter we put the money in an envelope marked RICE BOWL put it in the collection basket,and the Church sends all the money to Catholic Relief Services to feed the poor in other countries.  You can look up CRS Rice Bowl on line: http://www.crsricebowl.org. To get more information. Catholics have been donating to CRS for many years. They are all over the world helping and teaching the poor how to  feed and support themselves and they are at places of devastation like Haiti helping people to recover and start over.

Obama’s Presidency Sputters to an End

(THIS WAS TOO GOOD AN ARTICLE TO PASS UP FOLKS.)

By Timothy H. Lee

Barack Obama’s tumultuous presidency has now come and gone, which merits assessment of his performance and likely place in history.

Eight years ago, Obama’s raison d’être was “Hope and Change.”  So how did that all turn out?  How much hope did his presidency offer?  After nearly a decade in office, what change did he bring?

According to the American public he was elected to serve, a grim response arrived this week in the form of a comprehensive Gallup public opinion survey.

As it did eight years ago as the Bush Administration concluded, Gallup asked respondents whether the nation gained ground or lost ground on nineteen separate policy domains.  In what must surely come as a jarring corrective to any Obama loyalist, Americans believe that we lost ground under Obama on fully fourteen of those nineteen measures, held steady on one and gained ground on only five.

In descending degree of severity, the American electorate believes that we’ve regressed under Obama in terms of the federal debt, crime, income inequality, race relations, the situation in Iraq, terrorism, America’s position in the world, immigration, the situation in Afghanistan, taxes, national defense, education, the situation for blacks and trade relations.  Only in the situation for gays and lesbians, energy, climate change and by a slight margin the economy do Americans believe we’ve gained ground.  Notably, we’ve treaded water on healthcare, which was Obama’s signature focus.

“At the moment,” Gallup summarized, “Americans are more negative than positive on the progress made on the majority of issues tested.”

That’s hardly the “hope and change” that Obama promised, and quantifiable realities support Americans’ negative assessment.

Perhaps most alarmingly, Obama stands alone as the worst deficit spender in U.S. history, and it’s not even close.  The man who once labeled Bush’s comparatively tiny deficits “unpatriotic” averaged deficits of approximately $900 billion during his presidency, compared to Bush’s $250 billion average.  The largest deficit in U.S. history prior to 2009 was $450 billion, but Obama oversaw four consecutive deficits over $1 trillion.  Over his eight years, Obama added as much federal debt as every one of his predecessors combined.

On that measure alone, Obama instantly enters discussion of the worst presidents in U.S. history.

And to what end?  In terms of economic performance, for the first time in American history we’ve gone an entire decade without reaching even 3% growth.  The current cyclical expansion, our 12th since World War II, is the weakest of those 12.  During that 70-year period we’ve averaged 3.3% growth each year, but Obama never even reached that mark, let alone surpassed it.

The nation’s unemployment rate also festered above 8% for the longest stretch since recordkeeping began, and median U.S. incomes actually declined several years into the cyclical recovery, which was unprecedented.

Obama and his defenders routinely credit him with ending the last recession and preventing another Great Depression, but the facts simply don’t support that claim.  The U.S. economy actually bottomed out and began its V-shaped bounceback before Obama entered office, contracting 8.2% in the fourth quarter of 2008 before improving to 5.4% contraction in the first quarter of 2009 and 0.5% contraction in the second quarter of that year.  By June of 2009, just four months after Obama entered office and long before any of his economic policies took effect, the recession had already officially ended.

Thus, it’s simply not true that Obama ended the last recession.  What Obama did do was preside over the most sluggish cyclical recovery in U.S. history.

In terms of notable legislation, ObamaCare will stand alone as Obama’s signature act.  Years later, 27 million Americans remain uninsured, premiums continue to skyrocket and the law has remained unpopular with the American public.  Indeed, Obama’s false promise that, “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan” will go down as his most notable rhetorical moment.

In foreign policy, there is not a single significant theater of the world where America stands stronger today than it did on January 20, 2009.  In 2008, Obama labeled himself a “citizen of the world” before a Berlin audience, but today Brexit and other nationalist tendencies have spread like wildfire in rejecting the sort of globalism that Obama holds dear.  His most notable foreign policy pronouncement came when he declared a “red line” against chemical weapon use in Syria, only to abandon it a short time later while hundreds of thousands were slaughtered.  A Russia to whom Obama promised “flexibility” on an open microphone in 2012 continues to openly mock his impotence.  Appeasement of enemies like Iran and Cuba bore no fruit, but maltreatment of allies like Israel and Poland undermined our global standing.

Politically, Obama promised unity but brought record levels of polarization.  He became the first president to win reelection with fewer popular and electoral votes than his initial election.  Whereas Obama openly hoped to “make government cool again” when he entered office, trust in government proceeded to reach record lows while distrust in the federal government reached record highs.

Most humiliatingly and symbolically, Obama’s mismanagement led to record Republican success at the federal, state and local levels.  Today, the GOP holds more federal and state legislative seats than any time since the 1920s.

Indeed, no reality better summarizes Obama’s presidency than the fact that his despised antithesis will take the oath of office to succeed him.  As commentator Larry Elder observed, “Obama’s legacy is Donald Trump.”

From: Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF)article.

‘WE LIVE IN A CULTURE OF PETER PANS’

This article is from Hillsdale College’s IMPRIMIS , Jan. 2013, Col. 42, No.1

….”Cicero wrote:   ‘Not to know what happened before you were born, that is to be always a boy, to be forever a child.’

“In a sense, historical understanding-knowledge of what happened before you were born-is primary to all realms of knowledge.  Science is…..Literature is…..Mathematics … The arts are…

Historical understanding in all these areas humanizes, matures, and uplifts the soul.

Too many citizens of our country today are, in Cicero’s terms, forever children.  If knowledge of the past matures the soul, it is not something we can afford to marginalize of sideline.  Unfortunately, the hard work of gaining knowledge, eloquence, and wisdom is all too often skirted by teacher and student alike.  Because we have neglected knowledge of the past and the great tradition of historical understanding, we live in a cul;ture of Peter Pans, flying free in Veverland with no-past and no future, only the ever-present game, the mock battle against pirates or Indians.  Wendy’s stories, with their plot of real challenges to be overcome, only reveal to us our immaturity, the fact that we are forever children who won’t grow up.

The author says, “In my short professional tenure as a teacher, I have had the privilege of seeing students mature through coming to know the past……..I have witnessed the change in my students’ relationships with one another: a more mature thoughtfulness, a deeper sensitivity. Nothing is more satisfying for a teacher than seeing how interaction and with the stories of the past matures the souls of his students.”

“As G.K. Chesterton said in another context, the great tradition has not been tried and found wanting; it has been tried, found difficult, and duly abandoned……;”

You can and should go on line and read the rest of this article.  www.hillsdale.edu or ask for a subscription to imprimis@Hillsdale.edu. it is free.